Alora, Malaga, Andalucia
"Home of Verdiales"
Cortijo Valverde Country Hotel is only 15 minutes from Alora in Rural Andalucia. The small town of Alora is situated 40 kms north of Málaga on the road to Antequera and just 12 kms south of El Chorro. Municipality of Alora is also responsible for the care of Ardales Lakes and National Park, also known as the "Spanish Lake District".
From a distance, it is a typical ‘Pueblo Blanco’ (White Village); a whitewashed village topped by the ruins of a magnificent castle. Built by the Phoenicians and subsequently expanded under Roman rule and renamed Iluro. In the 5th century the castle was virtually destroyed by the Visigoths, only to be rebuilt under the Moors. Remnants of this era still remain; the decorative steel door and the traditional Arabian watchtower. During the 800 years of Moorish Rule, Alora (known as Alura by the Moors) was part of the important defensive ring around Malaga, which protected the port and vital supply line to the Cordoba Caliphate and later on to the last bastion of the Moors, the Granada Kingdom. Alora finally fell into the Christians army on 10th June 1484 and only weeks after the fall of Ronda, which spelt the end of defensive ring around Malaga. With the defensive ring gone, Malaga became indefensible and it was not long before Malaga also fell.
Alora is said to be the birthplace of Malagueño flamenco and Verdiales, which is still celebrated every year with a magnificent street festival. Musicians from all over Spain flock to Alora to take part in the street festival, with impromptu performances along the streets of Alora.
Between 1587 and 1593 Alora was home to the legendary Cervantes, the famed Spanish writer credited with the creation of Don Quixote legend and books. The main street in Alora is named in his honour and memory.
A visit to the village, which consists of a series of very steep slopes and attractive cobbled streets, is very worthwhile. The whitewashed streets are lined with lemon trees and converge on a square on the lowest level, overlooked by the impressive seventeenth century church of La Encarnación, which was built during the Catholic era of rule on the site of a former mosque. From the square, climb to the castle on foot, or go by car to the cemetery from where you can enjoy the splendid panorama of the Guadalhorce river basin. Among the tombs there is a small Gothic chapel. Monday is market day when the village becomes a lively mass of stall holders and shoppers. The area is becoming increasingly popular due to the new roads, beautiful surroundings and of course, lower property prices than the towns nearer to the coastal areas.
- Economy Alora’s economy is based on agriculture, in particular the cultivation of tropical fruits, olives and grape vines.
- Gastronomy The cuisine of Alora uses the traditional Mediterranean ingredients of olives, almonds and citrus fruits. There are some delicious local dishes, including ‘Sopa Perota’, based on a garlic broth with croutons - and scrambled eggs with spring onions and vegetables. Alora's own versions of Brandy is now a rare but a rewarding find.
- Crafts Castanets are just one of the items that are hand-made in Alora and are one of the most typical instruments used for the traditional dance of the verdiales. Basket making and ornate iron work are also traditional crafts.
- Fiestas Alora’s main fiesta is the flamenco festival which is held annually in July. The fiesta in honour of Saint Paulino, patron Saint of the village is celebrated at the beginning of July. Another popular traditional event is the Romería de la Virgen de las Flores which takes place in the middle of September and Alora is one of the best places to enjoy the traditional ‘Verdiales’ (The oldest Flamenco music style and song which is a variant of Fandango).